HIST 2005 Week 4 Monumental Documents

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The Treaty of Versailles, based on Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points, played a significant role in shaping the terms of Germany’s surrender after World War I. Wilson’s primary objective when crafting the Fourteen Points was to establish world peace. Although the document called for peace without territorial annexations, it did include reparations from the defeated nations. 

These reparations involved the division of territories among the surrendering countries. However, one notable weakness of Wilson’s fourteen points was the lack of provisions that would inspire nationalism or further the self-interest of nations. Instead, it primarily focused on promoting kindness and cooperation among nations to achieve global peace.

HIST 2005 Week 4 Monumental Documents

The strengths of the Fourteen Points lie in point five, which outlined the dismantling of European Empires. This aimed to create new states that could organize across national and cultural boundaries. Points six to thirteen provided detailed steps on implementing point five. However, point four demanded that all countries reduce their armed forces to the lowest possible level while ensuring domestic safety—a challenging task during that time. Wilson’s fourteenth point was his pride and joy, as it led to the creation of the League of Nations. He envisioned a “general association of nations” where each country would be represented by individual delegates working together to resolve disputes and prevent the escalation of conflicts or wars.

The Treaty of Versailles, signed on June 28, 1919, was intended to bring an end to the war. It served as a peace treaty between the Allied and Associated Powers and the German Empire. While the German Empire disagreed with the terms outlined in the treaty, it was eventually signed by the German Foreign Minister Hermann Muller. The treaty held Germany solely responsible for the war under the “War guilt clause” and imposed reparations of over thirty-one billion dollars. 

HIST 2005 Week 4 Monumental Documents

The third point of the treaty involved the cession of certain districts to other countries and the transfer of a significant portion of Eastern Germany to Poland. The fourth point mandated a drastic reduction in Germany’s armed forces, limiting them to one hundred thousand men and local police. The fifth and sixth points restricted Germany to six battleships and demilitarized the Rhineland. These terms caused unrest and tension among the German population, laying the groundwork for a fascist mentality and the rise of the Nazi Party.

In terms of the treaty’s outcome, Germany clearly emerged as the losing party. It lost territories to France, Belgium, Denmark, Czechoslovakia, Russia, and Poland. France and Great Britain benefited the most from the treaty, as it ensured France’s security against Germany and left Germany’s armed forces severely weakened, removing the threat of an attack. Great Britain, driven by an anti-German sentiment among the public, also felt a sense of victory over the German Empire.

HIST 2005 Week 4 Monumental Documents

The United States, however, never joined the treaty due to insufficient support in Congress. The Senate sought to modify Wilson’s 14th point, but Wilson was unwilling to compromise. As a result, the Senate refused to approve the treaty, leading to the United States’ non-involvement in the League of Nations.


President Wilson’s Fourteen Points (1918). Retrieved from


New World Encyclopedia. (April 4, 2008). Fourteen Points. Retrieved from:


The Versailles Treaty of June 28, 1919. Retrieved from https://avalon.law.yale.edu/imt/parti.asp